A Travellerspoint blog

Rotorua

sunny 23 °C

I ended up being awake for most of Sunday night. I managed to get asleep by about 11pm but unfortunately woke up again at 1am and spent about an hour just sitting there. I think my body was telling me that the 12 hour sleep I had the night before was too much! In order to try and get myself tired I went on the internet in the main lobby of the hostel. Randomly I ran into Richard and Veronica, two Norwegians who had been on my Fraser Island trip last November. Blast from the past! I have a lot of fond memories of that three day trip so it was great having a catch up. I certainly didn't expect to run into them again. An hour later I finally went back to bed. It felt like my alarm had gone off literally five minutes later. I checked my phone and it was 6.30am, time to get up...

The bus picked us up an hour later and off we went. The first stop was Mount Eden which I had done the day before with Emma. I didn't mind stopping again though due to the view and the weather was a lot sunnier. I was surprised to find that the bus was only half full - apparently though it's low season and the Christ Church incident isn't helping. I was wondering why my bus trip around the country had been reduced from $1,200 to just $499 (roughly 260E)! After that we travelled for a good bit and passed by a small town where we stopped off to try L&P, New Zealand's own brand soft drink, otherwise known as Lemon and Paeroa. An obligatory photo was also taken beside the largest statue of the bottle in the country. The drink itself was quite sugary and had more of a lime taste to it than lemon. Good to try but wouldn't be a huge fan I have to say.

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Our next stop then came at the much anticipated Hobbiton Farm. From there we were able to go on a tour of the movie set for the upcoming film The Hobbit, due out in Christmas 2012. The village is identical to that featured in the first Lord of the Rings movie. It was very surreal and a bit like being in a section of Willy Wonka's Chocolate factory - everything was just far too colourful and perfect. It's so peaceful and beautiful out here though it was easy to see why Peter Jackson picked it as one of their filming locations. I also got to see some of the set that will feature in the new films but I'm not allowed to upload pictures of that!

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Following that we were taken back to the main farm hub area where randomly, we were shown a sheep being sheared. I always pictured the farmer shaving the wool off as the sheep was standing up. The reality is the sheep is dragged out and turned on its back and then its stomach as it's sheared. It looks like quite an awkward process and apparently it can take up to four years for a farmer to perfect this method. The poor sheep wasn't too impressed initially but seemed alright by the end of it and no doubt happy to be a bit cooler given the hot weather outside.

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I got into Rotorua by 6pm that evening. The first thing I noticed was the smell... rotten eggs! There is sulphur in the air but thankfully it was nowhere near as bad as what I experienced in Tokyo a few years ago at the hot springs. I didn't have to hold my nose this time - it's only when you breathe in quite deeply that you can get a really strong smell for it. I've been here the past three days now and I'm barely noticing it anymore. That evening I had dinner with an English girl and a Swedish lad I had met on the trip that day who were also travelling alone - we played some cards and then got into the hostel's main unique feature - a hot thermal pool! At about 40 degrees it's a pretty nice way to finish off the evening before bedtime and I've made it a nightly tradition since.

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Tuesday was spent enjoying two of New Zealand's eco-friendly outdoor activities. The first one was the Zorb ball. I had only seen pictures of this before my travels and wasn't too familiar with it. Basically, you're driven up to the top of a large hill where you climb into a huge rubber ball which is within another ball separated by a metre or two. They then throw a couple of litres of water into it. They release it and you tip yourself over the hill. From there you can sit back and enjoy what is essentially a waterslide mixed with a rollercoaster. I really loved it but my only gripe is that it was over too soon. It's not cheap either costing twenty Euro for thirty seconds but it was just about worth it for the experience. They should have offered discounted prices to go again, I definitely would have done it.

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Once I had dried off and changed I headed to the Luge. The last and only time I have done this was in Singapore way back at the start of my trip in the beginning of October. Essentially it's a downhill go-kart without an engine. It's a lot of fun and fairly cheap so I decided to take the gondola (a ski lift style ride) up the mountain and do three different rides down the tracks i.e. scenic, intermediate and advanced. Scenic is what you'd expect, fairly straight forward, quite long and with some nice views. Advanced was mental, you have to pull back on the breaks a lot of the time or you'll crash quite badly. I played it safe and made it down in one piece.

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Today I decided to do some local sightseeing. I booked a tour of the Buried Village which is a small town area that was covered in lava due to Mount Tarawera erupting. It happened in 1886 and is New Zealand's greatest natural disaster. You can walk through the village where a lot of the buildings have been preserved in time. There wasn't too many mind you and it was slightly disappointing given what I was expecting. The scenery made up for it though with a massive waterfall near the village that you can a walk to. Once we had finished our driver who is a Maori (with Scottish ancestry) took us up to see Mount Tarawera and was only too happy to tell us a range of stories from around the time. The Maori people are well known for being good story tellers - this guy is 71 years old (he looked no more than 60) and full of life, smiles and laughter as he recalled tales of his ancestors. Oh and Kia Ora is the native word for hello. It's nice to know where the name of that drink I lived on in the 1990s came from!

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Rotorua is quite a nice town but definitely a bit too much on the quiet side for me. I'm not sure if it's due to low season but it all seems a little dead here. Everything shuts down really early and you can walk through the 'city centre' (I can't believe they call it that) at times without seeing anyone. The hostel I've been staying in is one of the cleanest and most comfortable (Kiwi Paka if you're wondering) but at best is only 30% full. Aside from a gang of rowdy American girls who arrived in a tour group yesterday you could practically hear a pin drop! Hopefully I'll get a better atmosphere at the next place I'm staying at. Having seen a little bit of the countryside so far it's safe to say already that New Zealand is the most picturesque country I have ever visited - the South Island is the part everyone talks about so I can't wait to see it in person. Tomorrow enroute to Taupo promises to be quite exciting - indoor cavetubing in the dark followed by the skydive...

Posted by mattld 21:54 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Greetings from New Zealand! Auckland

sunny 22 °C

I'm sitting here in an Internet cafe on Queen Street trying to update this blog and upload photographs. An old man has just sat down beside me to look up porn. RUDE. His screen is turned my way so I can see everything and it's very off-putting! He doesn't look like he is going anywhere so I'm just going to move computer... Right, sorted! I should have reported him but I can't be bothered (Update - I changed my mind and reported his ass... ooh yeah!). Anyway, back to my blog. I've been in New Zealand now since Thursday and so far everything is going great. Once again my flight was with Qantas so I was delighted - more good food and in-flight entertainment. The film I watched though ended up being pretty crappy - it's called Monsters. Don't bother with it. I was surprised at how short the flight was, only two and a half hours. You feel a bit isolated from everywhere else when you're in Australia, especially down south but Oz and NZ are only a little further apart than Ireland and England. I got the feeling though that a lot of Ozi people don't visit New Zealand which is a shame.

Thursday was pretty much spent getting my bearings on the city. First impressions were good. Landing into Auckland was a bit like coming home to Dublin. There is green everywhere! I had heard this from a number of people beforehand and it really is true. It was nice to see as there wasn't much at Christmas time when I went home so it's over six months since I've seen a decent bit of green. The city itself is much smaller than Sydney but a lot larger than Dublin, with high rise building and some skyscrapers. It reminds me mostly of Toronto in Canada funnily enough. It looks clean and has a 'new' quality to it. This makes sense though as New Zealand was only founded properly in the 19th century! Walking through the streets the crowd do look different to the Australians. Forgive me for saying but they're definitely not as good looking as their neighbours! There is a good mix of nationalities with Kiwis, Asian, Maori and surprisingly Indian. Every bus driver I've encountered over the past four days has been Indian, and a good few have been quite rude I have to add. The Maori people appear to mix in a lot better than the Aboriginal people and Australians do which is nice to see. But then again this is only on first impression. Another weird thing is religious groups - in the space of three days I've been approached four times by these people asking will I do interviews or if I want to join. If you're blind, thank you very much. Final first observation are the Kiwi people themselves - they're as friendly as I expected and only too happy to help with directions or information if you need it. One guy around my own age stopped for five minutes to look up the GPS on his phone so he could point me towards the correct bus stop. This sort of thing simply doesn't happen in Europe.

I was looking up hostels to stay in before I left and everywhere in the city centre was getting bad reviews. Instead I opted for one in Mount Eden which is about ten minutes away by bus and had great reviews. In order to save some cash, I decided to opt for a five bed share dorm in order to try them out again. I had done it a couple of times on the East Coast of Oz and was never mad on them. This one though was probably the worst I've encountered and it has rightly put me off share dorms for the rest of the trip. It's back to 'flash-packing' for me. Don't get me wrong, the other people were very friendly (a Swedish couple and an English girl) but we were put into a 'family room'. You couldn't swing a cat in there. The space between the beds didn't help either. I had a good time chatting to them and this is a great way to make new friends but upon sleeping time I quickly discovered that it's just not worth it. I had a chat with the Swedish couple earlier in the evening about snoring and both said that they didn't. Thank god for that. So I was surprised and annoyed when the tiny little English girl snored like an old man! It was pretty bad. After a while, the Swedish guy decided to join in with her. After tossing and turning for what must have felt like forever, I switched on the iPod but that didn't help much. Two sleeping tablets and another hour later I finally drifted off. However like on a plane or a bus, you are always kind of conscious and it doesn't make for a peaceful sleep. I woke up about four hours later with everyone up and about and I was in bits but had no choice but to venture out for the day and to start getting things done.

My main plan of the day was getting my tour around both islands booked. After a bit of research I opted to go for the Magic Bus group. I'm sure the Kiwi Experience tour is great too but Magic seemed a bit more personal and I had heard some great reviews. The agents in the office on Albert Street were so helpful - they talked me through everything and organised the itinerary with me. With little flexibility to extend days where I want to, I opted to book all hostels in advance so it's out of the way. I've got about 16 nights travel ahead of me and starting from the top of the north island I will slowly make my way down until I get to Queenstown in the south. From there, I'll spend a couple of nights and fly back up to Auckland before I move on to Fiji. After further thought I've decided to remove Christchurch from my trip. From talking with locals it seems the last thing they want or need is tourists taking photographs so I'll leave that for another time. The only downside is I'll miss two other areas close to it with Lake Tekapo being one of them. However it gives me a good excuse to come back and visit another time. With little in the way of history, New Zealand is best known for its outdoor eco-adventure sports. Over the next three weeks I'll be doing:

  • Zorbing - erm, Google it
  • 15,000 Feet Sky Dive - aggghhh!! I'm finally doing it after my last one in Byron Bay got cancelled
  • Caving/Tubing - unlike Laos I don't think there will be alcohol this time lol
  • 1 Day Glacier Hike
  • 1 Day Mountain Hike

It's quite action packed and completely different from what I've done to date so I'm quite excited about it all. After getting my trip sorted, I headed to the Auckland Sky Tower. This baby is 328 meters high and offers a view of 80km in every direction. It's very similar to the Sydney equivalent but with a few differences e.g. in the lift on the way up part of the elevator is glass so you can see the bottom and again on the top floor you can stand on glass sections which is very weird and kind of freaky. I walked across it knowing it was safe but my mind kept telling me not to.

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That night I met up with Emma who is the sister of one of my very good friends from home. She moved over here in 2009. That night I headed out with her and a couple of her mates. After downing a bottle of wine and a sambuca at the house, we were well geared up for a good night of dancing. Now I know where her younger brother gets that appetite for shots from! A great and very late night was had by all...

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On Saturday I checked myself out of my hostel and moved into Base in the city centre. The bad reviews online were unjustified - it's clean, spacious and the private room is perfect. I would highly recommend it. The bathroom is shared but I can live with that. They'll all be like that for the rest of the trip and I don't mind once I can get a good sleep and don't have to worry about personal things getting stolen. That afternoon I had planned to visit the Auckland Museum but on the way into town I had noticed a large number of Irish people on the bus. In addition an older gentleman had a shamrock attached to his t-shirt. I knew St. Patrick's Day was on Thursday so I didn't think too much of it. There are plenty of Irish in Sydney too so that novelty has kind of worn off. When I got into the city centre though I was like 'what the hell?!'. There were Irish flags and people dressed up everywhere. It turned out their annual parade was about to start... happy days! I rushed over to Base, quickly checked in and headed back out to watch it. It's no Dublin but this was such a pleasant surprise. I genuinely wasn't expecting much but they put on a real effort - the crowd and parade walkers were a mixture of Irish settlers in New Zealand, tourists like me and New Zealand locals who just wanted to join in with it. The parade lasted just over half an hour and watching Irish people walk down the main street proudly holding Irish county flags even brought a few tears out. I may be enjoying my time out of the country right now but I'm extremely proud to be Irish - what other country has a national day dedicated to them and a pub specific to them in almost every country in the world?! It's the first time I had felt homesick since Halloween.

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After the parade people settled up the street where Irish singers and dancers entertained for a few hours. I told Emma to get in as quickly as possible. She eventually turned up about five minutes before it all ended but at least she got to enjoy the end of it. Her friend Sarah who was out with us the night before joined us for lunch. That night I managed to stay awake until 8pm (with great difficulty I must add) before a much needed 12 hour sleep - the two previous nights had really caught up with me. Today I finally got around to visiting the Auckland Museum. This is one of the recommended highlights in the Lonely Planet. The best and most unique part here was the area devoted to the Maori people. I got to see a Maori culture show which included local songs, games and traditions. I'm loving the whole Maori thing and really feel it adds something unique to the country. The rest of the floor featured artwork and the upper levels had everything on display from New Zealand's involvement in World Wars I & II to pre-historic life in the country and a section on volcanoes.

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Later in the afternoon I met up with Emma and she drove me out to Mount Eden. New Zealand as most people will know is entirely built on volcanoes. I'm a volcano virgin myself so I was thrilled seeing one even if it hasn't erupted for over 60,000 years. You can see from the photo below it's now covered in grass but you can clearly tell that it was once a volcano from the shape. We also got a great view of the city up there too. After that we passed by Eden Park where Ireland will be playing Australia at the Rugby World Cup in September. Despite being completely empty and quiet it was quite thrilling to see.

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I've really enjoyed the last few days in Auckland. It's a nice city and I must say thanks a million to Emma for being my tour guide and wonderful host. She made me feel really welcome and her mates were good fun too. Tomorrow morning I'm getting picked up and brought to my second NZ stop, Rotarua. I'll spend three nights there before heading for my big sky diva in taupo. I'll be doing it on St. Patrick's day itself which is kinda cool! Next update will be just before or after the dive so keep the fingers crossed for no cancellations or panic attacks. Happy St. Patrick's day everyone!

Posted by mattld 18:51 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Sydney III & Mardi Gras

sunny 27 °C

It feels like a couple of weeks now since I was last in Bangkok. Leaving that day I can't remember a whole lot, except it was very straightforward. The airport there is huge but funnily enough I ran into Will and Suze who were flying out to Amsterdam for a few days before returning to Dublin. I knew they would be there around that time but didn't expect to run into them so it was great to be able to kill half an hour having a chat while they had lunch. My flight was even more straight forward. I'm now a huge fan of Quantas. Every flight I've ever taken with them has been superb. The service, the comfort factor (for economy), in-flight entertainment and food were all excellent. I watched a couple of films and took one sleeping tablet but unfortunately I only managed to get an hours rest. I got into Sydney at 6am but couldn't check into my room until 2pm so it was a painful wait before I could finally sleep properly.

It was a little bit strange arriving back into Sydney. I was so used to living in Asia for the past two months it was a bit of a novelty when I got there - mind you after half a day it was like I had never left. I was also half thrilled to get a full search when I landed by one of the security guards along with a long series of questions e.g. why are you here, how long are you here for, who are you staying with, when are you going back to Dublin, how much cash do you have, do you have a job, what job is it etc. etc. I'm a big fan of that Australian airport programme back home on tv that exposes people with drugs or illegal goods so for a change I didn't mind it for once! There were no camera crews unfortunately - I would have been waving at it saying 'hi mom!'. After about 15 minutes of probing they let me through. I had forgotten just how good the transport system is. It is just so simple and I'm normally terrible for getting public transport in a foreign country. A five minute walk brings you to the train and from there it goes straight to the station by my hostel. I think it took about 20 minutes. Compare that to London where it feels like you are walking forever and it can take hours to get into the actual city centre. Or Ireland where there is no train system at all!

I didn't do a whole lot of sightseeing given that I had done it before but I did take a tour of the Opera House. This is my favourite building in the world. It's just stunning to look at. It was great seeing the various concert halls and theatres inside as well getting a full background and history of how the building came to be. It's a good story too with a Danish man who had never been to Australia winning an open competition to design the building. His entry was originally eliminated but when one judge arrived late (from Finland *cough*!), he went through all of the entries that had been discarded, picked this one out and declared it the winner. The rest is history. The designer fell out with the Australian government during the building phase as it was taking a lot longer and costing a lot more money. Unfortunately he resigned and returned to Denmark. Despite being re-employed by the Government in the late 1990s to work on the interior of the building, he never got to return due to poor health and died a couple of years ago. It's weird knowing that the designer never got see his finished work which also happens to be one of the well known and respected buildings in the world. Other sights I took in included the Aquarium at Darling Harbour and Sydney Tower - two attractions I had paid for on a multiple entry last year so they were free to do again.

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I had three major nights out over the past week - Friday, Saturday and Tuesday. Saturday was the main event with Mardi Gras taking place. You don't realise how huge this thing actually is until you're at it. There must have been at least 50,000 people lined up and down the streets, all from various walks of life. The parade itself was excellent. It featured everything - weird, wacky, funny, sexy and at times heart moving floats. So many gay specific minority crowds were accounted for: Chinese, Japanese, Indian, European, parents/families, religious, firemen, police and people with disabilities. It was one big party and everyone was invited. There was even a float for fag hags!

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For a country that is so liberal in terms of gay life, it's astonishing that gay marriage has not yet been granted. This is something the LGBT crowd are fighting very hard for and I have no doubt they will get it within the next few years. Walking up and down the city there were gay people everywhere and many couples holding hands. It was nice being in the majority for a change. My friend Tracy who I stayed with in Brisbane flew down for the weekend and along with my gang we watched the parade and then partied late into the night.

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The past week has been brilliant fun. It was great catching up with all my buddies from last year and the few from Ireland that have moved over here. It's such a great life here I really don't blame them. I never thought I would fall in love with a city but it's kind of hard not to. Everything here is just perfect - from the weather to the people, attractions, city itself, nightlife, entertainment etc. I've been quite sad at the thought of leavig the past two days but I'm pretty sure I'll move over and work here for a year or two at some point in my life. In comparison to Ireland, companies are just crying out for skilled staff here - one friend of mine Orla got her flights paid for and put up in a five star hotel for two weeks when she arrived! Hard life eh?

Tomorrow I head to New Zealand. I fly to Auckland in the morning and will spend a few nights there before booking a Kiwi Experience style bus trip that will take me from the top of the Northern Island to the bottom of the Southern Island. I'll spend three weeks doing it so I'm getting ready for lots more bus trips, sightseeing and meeting new people. I'm a bit weary and apprehensive about Christchurch but luckily that is towards the end of my NZ trip so I will see how it goes and take any official advice given. Either way, I know it's going to be a lot of fun.

Posted by mattld 23:01 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Final Thoughts on South East Asia

sunny 28 °C

Well, it started off slowly but the last few weeks have just flown in. Where have the past two months gone?? Looking back on my blog I feel like I’ve done so much since I arrived at the start of January. Summing up travelling around South East Asia is too difficult to do in a simple blog post. There have been many highs and lows along the way. It was a real experience and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve been thinking about my top five highlights for the past week now but I’ve finally made up my mind:

1: Halong Bay (Vietnam)
2: Angkor Wat (Cambodia)
3: Tubing in Vang Vieng (Laos)
4: Lunar New Years Eve at Hoi An (Vietnam)
5: Chilling out in Koh Phangan (Thailand)

You couldn't call it a highlight given the nature of it but the Killing Fields and Prison Museum in Phnom Penh are a must see if you're in Cambodia. Laos as a country was just such a pleasent surprise - I'm already looking forward to going back and seeing more of it.

Two memorable low points worth adding include the overnight bus from Nha Trang to Hoi An. I’ll never forget the look on Carly’s face as she got into her ‘bed’ for the night as the locals were shouting at her to climb up a dodgy make-shift ladder. It was too funny. Another was that awful first day in Ho Chi Minh city. After getting ripped off by a dodgy taxi driver on the way and discovering our hotel was in the most anti-tourist friendly location, we spent over an hour walking the streets for something decent to eat. Eventually we found an Italian restaurant and thought we were saved. We were both starving so when a horrible four inch pizza arrived followed by seven chips on a plate to share between us, it was the final straw. I’ll never forget the tears of laughter by us both and the confused look on the poor waiter’s face!

I would recommend travelling South East Asia to anyone. It’s not easy and there are times you’ll be seriously pissed off but believe me it is worthwhile – if you look back on the previous entries you can see some of the amazing things we’ve experienced. I just want to say a big thank you and shout out to Carly my Asian travel buddy. I’d like to wish her the very best of luck with everything in life and I know we’ll keep in touch as we shared this adventure together. I wouldn’t have been able to do all this without her. Carly, before we both forget her name… Dilly Morgan!!

Posted by mattld 08:56 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Koh Tao & Bangkok II

sunny 28 °C

The boat ride to Koh Tao only took two hours. I slept for one so it felt like we were there in no time. It was a bit bumpy towards the end though. Carly and I didn’t feel too well getting off. It wasn’t helped by the blazing heat when we arrived or the 20+ people trying to get us into a cab or sell us a scuba dive tour. Luckily our hotel was only a five minute walk away from the dock so it was fairly straightforward.

Koh Tao is north of both Samui and Phangan – it’s the smallest of the islands and despite its beauty I must say I wasn’t overly impressed with it. There just isn’t an awful lot to do here – a lot of the island is inaccessible due to poor road conditions. It also wasn't as nice to hang out as Phangan or Samui. Our hotel lacked a pool so after the luxury of our place in Phangan it was a bit disappointing. Thursday was pretty much spent having a walk around the main town area and dinner before chilling out in the room that night.

The next day I hired a scooter (best way to travel on the islands but you need to be really careful you don’t crash – I fell off in Samui and had a few cuts and a nasty fine at the end of it). I travelled over to the North East of the island near Mango Bay. There was a great look out point where you can see most of the island including the main beach at Sairee. The view was great but it was touch and go getting in and out safely as some of the roads were quite dodgy. At one point I got off the bike and pushed it uphill for fear of it skidding. I then headed back towards where I was staying and stopped off at Sairee for some lunch and a look around. I've seen better but the beach was quite nice.

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On Saturday Carly and I split up for the final time as she was heading back to Samui for a few days. She didn’t spend as much time there as me so it made sense for her to go and do that and fly directly into Bangkok for her last night. She is off to Singapore, Bali, Perth and Sydney before flying home for good to London so I’m now officially on my own again! I took the opportunity to do a day scuba diving as it’s the best place in South East Asia. We were taken out to Mango Bay. It’s not one of the best dive sites here but in comparison with Alma Bay where I did my Padi Cert in Australia it was great. The water was 28 degrees and the visibility was very clear. I saw some really cool fish during the two dives… e.g. giant puffer fish, stingray, long fin banner fish and a school of yellow tailed barracuda. The best one though was the trigger fish – these bastards are quite large and have huge teeth. If you get anywhere near them they will see it as a sign of entering their territory. If you’re not careful they’ll fly at you and try to bite. Most of the time it’s only the flippers they go for but we didn’t want to risk it so when we saw one we stayed as far away as possible.

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The next morning I was up early for a boat over to Chumphon on the mainland. From there it was an eight hour bus trip (including a stop for dinner) to Bangkok. It was a long day – about ten hours travel in total. I had a bit of extra drama then on the Tuk Tuk to my hotel. I managed to get a great price (about 25% of what they were all asking for and cheaper than the quotes I had gotten from taxis). The only problem was my driver had no clue where the hotel was so we spent over an hour on what was essentially a free tour of Bangkok’s city centre! I could see the driver was getting more stressed out as time went on. His fee wasn’t all that much at 150 baht (less than 4 Euro) so I was relieved when we finally found the place!

The last three days have been spent chilling out and with a DVD player in the room I was able to catch up on some films that I hadn’t got a chance to watch. This was my third visit to Bangkok so the main reason for spending three nights here was to see friends. On Sunday night I met up with my mate Leon and two of his friends. It started off at about 11pm. After a few drinks in the bar we had a karaoke session for an hour before heading to a nightclub. We then headed to an outdoor street party in Koh San which was a lot of fun but by 5.30am I was drunk as a skunk and ready for bed. Leon kindly got me into a Tuk Tuk and I conked out pretty soon after getting home.

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Last night I met up with Will and Suze two friends from college. They’ve been travelling Asia since September last year so it was great to meet up and compare our experiences. They brought me to a cool little bar called Saxophone near Victory Monument. There was a live band too so a good night was had. After 8 drinks I ran out of money (I'm trying to watch it now as ATM charges are ridiculous – about 3 Euro per withdrawal) so we headed home just after 1am.

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Tonight I met up with Leon again for dinner and went for a drink. He’s moving to Australia for a few years (isn’t everyone these days!) so it was a good chance to say goodbye before he heads off after touring Asia for a month. Tomorrow I check out at 12pm, have a couple of hours to kill and then head to the airport. My flight is at 5.35pm and I should get into Sydney at 6am on Thursday local time. I’m really excited about it. I have friends from Ireland to catch up with and a group of Australians from my time here last year. Mardi Gras is taking place at the weekend so it’s going to be a lot of fun! Next update in a week just before I head to New Zealand.

Posted by mattld 08:52 Archived in Thailand Comments (4)

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